Updated: Jun 7
After almost ten years of speculation, Amazon has announced the end date of support of ONIX 2.1 for physical book feeds. Virtusales customers tell us Amazon has just published a requirement to upgrade metadata feeds from ONIX 2.1 to ONIX 3.0, with a deadline of December 2020. The announcement was made through an alert on Vendor Central, where Amazon is providing tools to assist publishers with this process. Virtusales customers can produce ONIX 3.0 at the click of a button today, well ahead of the coming deadline. Many publishers are already enjoying the heightened discoverability and tradability of ONIX 3.0, but for those that are not the time to upgrade is nigh, and the sooner, the better. Graham Bell, Executive Director at EDItEUR, the international group coordinating the development of the standards infrastructure for electronic commerce in the book, ebook and serials sector, commented: "EDItEUR welcomes the news that Amazon is ending its support for ONIX 2.1 for physical books next year. While it recognizes that this may cause issues for a small proportion of publishers using legacy product information management systems, the concentration of development effort solely on the latest ONIX 3.0 will benefit the industry as a whole. Almost all major off-the-shelf software systems already support ONIX 3.0, and publishers and retailers who use the newer version can make use of a richer range of metadata to boost discoverability and conversion. Amazon’s announcement of support for the ONIX Acknowledgement message also provides an opportunity for greater automation of the choreography of ONIX message exchanges." Tricia McCraney, Virtusales Projects Consultant and recent recipient of the BISG Standards Bearer Award, estimates she has analyzed thousands of ONIX files from hundreds of publishers over the last two decades. A passionate exponent of the benefits of ONIX 3.0, she lays out her top four ways, of the many ways version 3.0 is good for data senders (publishers and distributors) and recipients (retailers and trading partners) alike: 1. There's a place for everything No more redundant or deprecated data elements - so your data is much better structured, and much easier for recipients to interpret. For senders, there’s a place for everything in the ONIX message; it’s your job to put everything in its place. With 3.0, you can better see and understand where things go. For recipients, there’s a place for everything, and when publishers do their job, everything’s in its place. 2. Sales and distribution rights are clear ONIX 2.1 describes suppliers and, for each supplier, lists the markets in which it sells, whereas ONIX 3.0 describes markets and, for each market, lists the suppliers operating within it. Therefore senders give richer data about the rights they hold, and recipients get better data about who they can buy from globally. Additionally, ONIX 3.0 provides a Rest of World Sales Rights Type, and this allows senders to explicitly say when rights are unknown or unstated, removing ambiguities around sales rights, market representation, supplier territories, and price validity. 3. Digital books are products too ONIX 3.0 allows for the robust description of ebooks and other digital products, and now permits senders to provide detail about enhanced ebooks. For example, rather than only the ability to describe a digital ‘binding’ as with version 2.1. Also, new features enable the supplier to specify usage constraints related to access and viewability, allowing different levels of restriction depending on price — this opens up the possibility of rental rates and other new or complex business models. 4. Sets and series are re-imagined ONIX 3.0 provides a new way to organize products that are part of a set, series, or other multi-item groups. Suppliers now can order a collection of titles outside of a numbered series, such as according to narrative order, publication order, or suggested reading order. Furthermore, sets may be grouped by characters, place or other narrative features that aren’t normally part of a series or set.